How to Use Primers, Finishers, and Workout Add-ons

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In addition to your team's sport-specific strength training plan, our Sport Performance team created a library of workout add-ons you can use to enhance and customize your athletes' training. These add-ons are entirely optional — whether you choose to use them, and how you choose to implement them, is completely up to you. For coaches interested in leveraging these workout add-ons, this article will guide you through some recommended ways to utilize this content effectively with your team.

What are Workout Add-ons?

There are 5 categories of add-ons you can implement in addition to your team's strength training sessions: warm-ups, SAQ drills, primers, conditioning plans, and finishers. We'll walk you through each category to give you a better sense of when and how to use them.

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Warm-ups

Volt highly recommends completing a dynamic warm-up before each and every training session. These warm-ups are located at the top of your athletes' training sessions and are designed to provide you with time- and equipment-based options to ensure your athletes are properly prepared for strength training.

SAQ (Speed/Agility/Quickness) Drills

These short routines contain skill-based drills designed to progressively improve your athletes' explosive movement abilities. Perform any SAQ drills immediately following your warm-up, but before your strength training session, for best results. (Note: SAQ drills do not produce the same physiological adaptations as a conditioning plan — think skills, not cardiovascular fitness.) There are 6 specific drills in each tier, and 3 tiers of SAQ drills, increasing in difficulty. We recommend choosing 2-4 drills per session.

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Primers

Primers are targeted routines designed to be performed after your warm-up, but before your strength training session, to neuromuscularly prime and prepare the body for training. Primers can also be utilized on off days for active recovery or mobility purposes. You'll find the primers section at the top of your athletes' training session, after Warm-ups and SAQs.

Conditioning Plans

Most sports have a corresponding 12-week conditioning plan designed to be implemented in conjunction with the strength training program during the off-season (Preparatory phase). If you are performing a conditioning session on the same day as a Volt strength training session, prioritize the most demanding session first — ex: if you have a maximal speed sprint session on your conditioning plan, perform that before your strength workout. But if you have a lower-intensity aerobic capacity session, perform that after your strength workout. 

Sports in which conditioning comprises the actual sport practice do not have an accompanying conditioning plan. Cross Country, Track, Crew, Swimming, Cycling, and Triathlon are a few examples of sports where aerobic conditioning is essentially the sport itself, making a conditioning plan redundant. 

For questions on how to implement your team's conditioning plan, contact your dedicated Volt Strength Coach Consultant.

Finishers

Finishers are short routines designed to be performed directly after your strength training session to help develop targeted adaptations. You can implement finishers with your whole team, to emphasize a specific training adaptation needed for your sport (like grip strength), or with individual athletes who might need extra work on specific areas.

 

How Do I Use Workout Add-ons?

While you could theoretically perform a warm-up, SAQ, primer, strength training session, conditioning, and finisher all in one workout, Volt does NOT recommend this. Utilizing workout add-ons strategically, rather than overloading your athletes with volume, will better help you accomplish your training goals. Below are some recommendations for how you might utilize 1-3 add-ons within a given training day.

Regular Training Days

WARM-UP + WORKOUT: On any day you perform a Volt strength training session, perform a warm-up beforehand. Never skip your warm-up!

WARM-UP + PRIMER + WORKOUT: Add a primer to your team's regular workout routine to target specific muscle groups (like the rotator cuff) or movement patterns (like jump landing mechanics).

WARM-UP + WORKOUT + FINISHER: Add a finisher to your regular workout routine to target specific adaptations (like Metabolic Conditioning or Core Strength).

WARM-UP + PRIMER + WORKOUT + FINISHER: Add a primer and finisher to your regular workout routine to target specific muscle groups and training adaptations. If you choose this option, make sure your athletes are not working to failure or exhaustion. We recommend using this configuration with lower-intensity finishers (like Mobility and Static Stretching).

Training Days with a Speed Focus

WARM-UP + SAQ + WORKOUT: On days you want to focus on explosive capabilities, like during a Power training block, try some SAQ drills before your workout.

WARM-UP + SAQ + PRIMER + WORKOUT: On days you want to focus on explosive capabilities AND have extra time to train, add a primer after your SAQ drills. Best when performed with primers that build on movement patterns practiced in SAQs (like Jump Landing Mechanics and Plyometrics).

WARM-UP + SAQ + WORKOUT + FINISHER: On days you want to focus on explosive capabilities AND have extra time to train, add a finisher. Best when performed with a lower-intensity finisher for a cool-down effect (like Mobility or Static Stretching), or with a finisher that continues training speed and agility (like Metabolic Conditioning).

Training Days with a Conditioning Focus

WARM-UP + CONDITIONING + WORKOUT: If your scheduled conditioning session is high-intensity (ex: speed work), perform it directly before a strength training session for best results.

WARM-UP + WORKOUT + CONDITIONING (2+ HOURS LATER): If your scheduled conditioning session is lower-intensity (ex: aerobic capacity work), perform it after your strength training session for best results.

WARM-UP + WORKOUT + PRIMER (2 HOURS LATER) + CONDITIONING: Try performing a targeted primer before your conditioning session as an extended warm-up (ALWAYS warm up properly before a conditioning session). We recommend Plyometrics, Jump Landing Mechanics, or ACL Injury Mitigation primers for best results.

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Conditioning-Only Days

PRIMER + CONDITIONING: Perform a targeted primer before a conditioning session as an extended warm-up. We recommend Plyometrics, Jump Landing Mechanics, or ACL Injury Mitigation primers for best results.

SAQ + CONDITIONING: Supplement your aerobic or anaerobic conditioning session with some targeted speed and agility work beforehand. If you perform 2 SAQ drills before each conditioning session, you can align all 3 tiers of SAQs with your 12-week conditioning plan.

CONDITIONING + FINISHER: Perform a finisher directly after a conditioning session to create a longer training session. We recommend Core Strength, Mobility, or Static Stretching finishers for best results.

Active Recovery Days

UPPER-BODY MOBILITY + LOWER-BODY MOBILITY FINISHERS: Pair both mobility finishers for a low-intensity active rest session.

ACL INJURY MITIGATION PRIMER + LOWER-BODY MOBILITY FINISHER: For a low-intensity workout focused on the lower body.

ROTATOR CUFF INJURY MITIGATION PRIMER + UPPER-BODY MOBILITY FINISHER: For a low-intensity workout focused on the upper body.

It's Up to You!

We created workout add-ons to give you endless customization options when it comes to your athletes' training. Ultimately, the decision on if, how, and when to use them is entirely up to you. After all, YOU are the expert on your athletes!

This article contains only recommendations. Actual exercises, volumes, and intensities are undertaken in the user's sole discretion and are performed at the user's own risk. Volt makes no express or implied warranties regarding the Volt program or content. Use of Volt's program and content is governed by the terms of use on Volt's website.

If you have any questions about workout add-ons, please contact your designated CSCS-certified Strength Coach Consultant!


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Christye Estes, CSCS, is one of the regular contributors to the Volt blog. She is an NSCA-certified strength coach and a Sport Performance Specialist at Volt.
Learn more about Christye and read her other posts | @CoachChristye